Top Places to Visit in Hampshire

Top Places to Visit in Hampshire

Home to rolling downs and ancient woodland, historic ports and marram-dusted beaches, vibrant cities and charming market towns, Hampshire is a melting pot of attractions. As famous for its maritime history as its New Forest ponies, its awe-inspiring places to visit span every dimension and delight and promise a wealth of things to see and do. Whether you’re seeking cultural immersion, countryside escapism or culinary delectation, there is something for you.

To help you curate a staycation of dreams, here are some of the top places to visit in Hampshire during a luxury retreat.

Jane Austen’s House

A view of Jane Austen's House in Chawton with pretty daffodils in the foreground

Hampshire is famous for being the birthplace and home of acclaimed English novelist, Jane Austen. Born in Steventon in North Hampshire, Jane continued to live in Hampshire for most of her life and spent many years in the idyllic village of Chawton. Particularly famous, Jane Austen’s House in Chawton was the home of Jane for eight years before she died and is now a cherished museum. Celebrating some of her beloved places and spaces, it showcases many of the author’s letters, first edition novels, and possessions, including the writing desk where she penned her world-famous novels. Discover permanent and temporary exhibitions in the house and relish the beauty of the house’s gardens, which come alive in spring and summer with the multi-coloured blooms of countless flowers.

Staunton Country Park

Views across a glassy lake in Staunton Country Park surrounded by greenery

Staunton Country Park is a historic estate located within the heart of Havant in southeast Hampshire. An expertly curated parkland, this gorgeous greenscape has evolved over the last two hundred years and today is a welcoming attraction for those seeking sun-dappled serenity. Follow the winding network of footpaths and bike trails throughout the country park and look out for the array of unusual follies peppered around the estate. In Staunton’s Victorian Glasshouse and gardens, you can explore a beautiful array of floral masterpieces and a mystifying maze, while the play barn and petting farm promise experiences to enchant all generations.

Spinnaker Tower

An aerial view of the Spinnaker Tower, harbour and city of Portsmouth in Hampshire

The Spinnaker Tower takes pride of place by the waterside in Portsmouth Harbour. A breathtaking observation tower rising nearly six hundred feet into the air, this ‘Sail of the Solent’ tower can be seen for miles and beckons for discovery. One of the top places to visit in Hampshire, it can be visited throughout the year and offers a wealth of captivating experiences, from curated cocktails and ‘high tea in the clouds’ to unforgettable abseiling adventures for the brave. Secure a reservation for a unique experience or simply head to the top of the tower to bask in the glorious panoramas over the city, the Solent, the South Downs and as far as the Isle of Wight on clear days.

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

Flower-filled borders along manicured paths in St Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire

The award-winning Sir Harold Hillier Gardens near Romsey are home to a sweeping 180-acre arboretum. Planted with more than forty thousand trees and shrubs, this colourful Eden is most famous for its collections of grand oaks and budding camellia, magnolia and rhododendrons. See the Centenary Border, the longest of its kind in the country; walk the wooden boardwalk through tangled trees; travel to Japan in the Acer Valley; and wander between giants in the Pinetum. Later, venture to the estate’s Courtyard Café and Garden Restaurant to savour the tastes of freshly-made repasts crafted with local, seasonal ingredients.

Fort Nelson

A mother and child walking across the bridge to Fort Nelston in Portsmouth, Hampshire

Blend past and present with a trip to the famous Fort Nelson. Overlooking Portsmouth Harbour near Portchester, this restored Victorian fort is home to a national collection of artillery and invites visitors to step back in time. Immerse yourself in local and global history and uncover the exhibits across its nineteen-acre site, such as a fifteenth-century Turkish bombard cannon and an enormous two-hundred-tonne railway howitzer. While underneath the fort are intriguing underground tunnels, hugging the expansive parade ground are original fortifications and high ramparts with beautiful views across Portsmouth and the sea. One of the top historic sites in Hampshire throughout the year, Fort Nelson promises family-friendly activities, ever-updating exhibitions, and an onsite café.

New Forest National Park

Wild ponies grazing between trees at golden hour in the New Forest National Park

The New Forest is one of the most stunning National Parks in the UK, adored for its villages lined with thatched cottages and ancient woodland home to free-roaming ponies. Somewhere that easily commands hours of leisurely exploration, it is a must-visit for lovers of fairytale aesthetics and soothing moments in nature. Trace footsteps along picturesque streets in Beaulieu, (home of Beaulieu National Motor Museum), Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst, Fordingbridge, and more, and fall for the New Forest’s charm. Open throughout the seasons are all manner of family-friendly attractions, restaurants, boutiques, delis and nature trails.

Highclere Castle

A view of the grand Highclere Castle as daylight fades

Used as the setting for Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle is a spellbinding destination in Hampshire. At the heart of a five-thousand-acre estate near Newbury, this Grade I listed country house was built in 1679 yet resides on a much older estate, dating all the way back to 749. Take part in different guided tours and learn all about the stories behind its hundreds of rooms and historic residents. From its Anglo-Saxon ancestors to the Earl who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun to its young war-time evacuees, fascinating tales await to be told. On balmy days, you can also explore Highclere’s spectacular gardens, first planted in the thirteenth century and redesigned by the world-renowned Capability Brown five hundred years later.

Bombay Gin Distillery

The glass conservatory of the Bombay Gin Distillery in Hampshire

Laverstoke Mill in Whitchurch has a history stretching back a thousand years to the Domesday Book. A paper mill for hundreds of years, today it is well-known as the home of Bombay Gin. Head over to learn about the history of the mill and the artistry and rare production processes of the distillery’s blue-bottled spirits. Presented in its famous eye-catching design, Bombay Gin has been made since 1761 and has been crafted to perfection over the centuries. Enjoy guided tours and sip samples of its unique gins as part of different experiences, from the Sunset Experience with mixology masterclasses to its Infusions Experience with immersive flavour exploration.

South Downs National Park

A beautiful sunset view over the South Downs countryside sprinkled with wild flowers

The youngest of the UK’s National Parks, the South Downs National Park is known as the ‘Gateway to England’ and is renowned for its exquisite beauty. Extending across Hampshire and Sussex, it is composed of a tapestry of open heathland and verdant grassland, undulating hills and bosky wooded valleys, and chalk streams and flowing rivers. Spend time uncovering its many highlights and lose yourself to its endless charm. From glorious walks along the South Downs Way to sipping local South Downs wines in golden sunshine, it has something to offer all those looking to cherish moments within its sun-kissed reaches.

Winchester Cathedral

An aerial view of Winchester Cathedral hugged by the city

Residing within the heart of the ancient capital city of the UK, Winchester Cathedral is one of the top places to visit Hampshire. Follow the cobbled streets of Winchester, past its welcoming restaurants and glistening cocktails bars, and step through the giant arched doorway of the cathedral. A peaceful sanctuary for contemplation and reflection for more than nine hundred years, it remains an important place of spirituality and worship today. Sign up to guided cathedral tours to dive beneath the surface of the cathedral or combine your visit with one of the wonderful events held throughout the year, including exhibitions, concerts, and the festive Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market.

Chawton House

A bird's eye view of Chawton House and gardens in Hampshire, the former retreat of Jane Austen

For literary lovers, Chawton House is a magical destination in Hampshire. The former home of Jane Austen’s brother, Chawton was adored by the famous author and the location of many of her most creative pen-to-paper moments. Today, the house has been sensitively restored and is open to the public to provide an invaluable insight into the life and work of Jane, as well as the works of lesser-known female writers. Explore the house, library and gardens and soak up the setting of this famous ‘Great House’, as the iconic writer often referred to it. Complementing exhibitions are extensive collections of preserved women’s literature from the twentieth century, much of which would have otherwise been lost to time.

Feeling inspired for a heavenly retreat? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Hampshire.

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